Saturday, December 29, 2007
I have absolutely LOVED this Christmas season! There have been so many wonderful moments, and I have savored each one. They all go into my memory bank. Here are a few of the highlights of this blessed time in somewhat chronological order:
1) Going to the Nutcracker ballet with Jessi and Emma. We went out to lunch first and then the ballet! It was magical! Watching Emma watch the dancers and seeing her dance in the lobby after the ballet warmed my heart!
2) Going to Anna's Christmas concert and hearing her sing! What beautiful and angelic voices! This set the tone for me for the Christmas season!
3) Going to Seattle and seeing Grandma Elaine in person after her stroke
and singing songs to her including Jesus Loves Me! Making that trip with Amy and Jenna helped me to remember that the Christmas season is about giving and it is about loving family!
4) Having time in Seattle at the hospital to connect with Steve and Joanna and really share our faith! Getting to have quality time with them was a real blessing!
5) Talking to Bazz (Tim's sister) on the phone when she was at the hospital with Mom. I love her so much...always have and always will!
4) Finding special Christmas "buckets" at Safeway and loading them with special presents for my family and delivering them to neighbors! Finding "just the right gift" for people delights me, and then stuffing the buckets with tissue paper and those Christmas goodies is so much FUN! We have a blazing fire in the fireplace, drink hot cider, and listen to Christmas music during this process!
5) Drawing my own Christmas card and personalizing each one with glitter! Having the time to be creative and do art is a gift to my heart!
6) Reading Christmas cards and letters from friends and family and re-connecting with them!
I know some people want to give up the tradition of sending Christmas cards, but it's a ritual that has great meaning for our family!
7) Meeting my goal (plus one) of losing thirty pounds by Christmas! WOW! This was a huge gift to myself and those I love! I came into this Christmas "lighter" in spirit and pounds!
8) Having dinner at Clinkerdaggers with my special friend Sharon Hartnett! (I go every year on a spiritual retreat to Cannon Beach with Sharon) Clinkerdaggers is dressed up for Christmas like no other restaurant I know! Sharon and I split a dinner and had a great time sharing and catching up!
9) Doing special wrappings and decorations on Christmas presents! This year I went wild with glitter, ornaments, bows, and glittery pine cones! My grandpa (My Dad's Dad) once told me that the present really starts with wrapping it in a way that someone gets a visual gift even before they open it! I even made glittery snowflakes on bags at 2am Christmas morning! How fun!
10) Sewing a special Christmas stocking for precious baby Jenna...see picture above! :)
This is a tradition started by my Mom, Nana Dee!
11) Going to the most meaningful Christmas service at our church and really pondering and celebrating what the birth of Jesus really means today! The gospel music rocked my soul and the contemporary Christmas play was amazing!
12) Christmas morning with Jessi, Rog and Emma and seeing Emma's face totally light up with her presents! Finding special ballet goodies for Emma made my day! Boppa also gave Emma some special rocks for her rock collection. These rocks had been collected by Boppa's Daddy! Emma looked at each one and shared about the rocks in her collection! What a special time!
13) Celebrating Christmas with Amy, Ryan, Jacob, Jenna, Zac, and Kayla at the Coeur d'Alene
Resort where we went swimming, hot tubbing, took saunas and some of us had massages! What a treat! We all loved the chance to be together and how fun to not do the cooking or clean up! We all had a mini-vacation! Bert and I had an extra day there so we had some fun couples time too!
14) Having relaxed time to spend with my sweet hubby where we could watch movies, talk, and take walks in the snow! Bert and I LOVE to spend time together. Seeing movies and discussing them is so much fun for us! We still, after all these years, love "date nights"!
15) Seeing the amazing movie Grampa Tim made about Jenna! What a treasure! I've already watched the DVD three times, and I cry each time! What a HUGE amount of love and work went into this gift!
16) Receiving special presents like the family calendar, a "Nana's Brag Book", family photos, and amazing digital photos in a frame that changed and moved! These thoughtful gifts really touched my heart!
17) Knowing in my heart of hearts...that nothing compares to loving Jesus...and that He is the reason for the season! While all of the fun and activities were a blast...even more important to me is keeping my eye on the gift of Jesus during Christmas time!
My prayer is that this has been a time of fun, joy, celebration and gratitude for you as well! Thank you for the gift you are in my life!
God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love Linda
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I set a Weight Watcher goal of losing thirty pounds by Christmas...and I actually lost thirty one pounds!
The journey of a healthy lifestyle continues...weight loss, exercise, and drinking lots of water! New goals will be set for 2008! I am excited to see the new results!
But for the moment...I am thrilled to keep this promise to myself!
A HUGE thanks to those who have supported me... especially Bert, Amy, Jessi, Kayla, Jacob, Kim and Tiffany, the members of my weight watcher group, and the students in my 8:30 Interpersonal Communication class!
God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
At this blessed Christmas time...Bert and I want to send you our love and Best Wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with love, joy, fun, challenges, faith and hope!
Here's our family's Christmas card! Some of you will get this in person...for others we send it to you with love!
God Bless and love to all who read this! Linda and Bert
At 6:10 am this morning, after my walk in the snow, I went out to get the Sunday paper.
There was a man with a hand-held snow shovel shoveling our driveway.
At first I didn't recognize him so I said "Good Morning!"
He looked up with a huge grin...and guess who it was....???
Our Pastor, Pastor Lonnie Mitchell :) :)
Our busy, busy Pastor, on a church morning, was shoveling our driveway, by hand.
Our driveway...I still can't get over it!
What an act of kindness! He reminds me of how Jesus would act and how Jesus would give.
I am so, so touched by his kindness! We'll see him in church in just a few hours, but until then I can't wait until Bert wakes up to tell him who our secret snow shoveler was!!!
God Bless! Hugs and loves to all who read this! Love Linda
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Christmas brings up lots of discussions with grandchildren at our house. Jacob came over for a playdate and to spend the night. He was shocked to see our dining room table brimming with Christmas cards, personalized ornaments, and glitter. At first he closed his eyes and wanted to be sure if it was OK if he looked. I assured him it was. He then found a corner of the table to do an art project on. And that's when the conversation began.
"Nana", he said. "Yes honey" I said.
"Do you think you'll be on the naughty or nice list?"
We had been singing the Christmas song about :
"You better watch out, you better not cry. You better not pout, I'm telling you why" ...
"He's making a list and checking it twice. He's going to find out who's naughty or nice."
I told him, although suddenly not quite sure about it really, that I hoped I would be on the nice list.
He said he hoped he would be too, but he had really been thinking about it alot lately.
[Side note here...being a Nana and really hearing what my Grandchildren think, feel and believe is a sacred honor to me! These are golden moments, memory makers for me. I adore seeing who my sweet grandbabies REALLY are.]
Jacob then proceeded to tell me that he was really working on being nicer to everyone, even the "mean people".
I asked him what the "mean people" do and he said, "They hurt others because they are really sad inside because they don't have love in their hearts. Maybe if we are nice to them they'll be happier."
OK...I was speechless.
The end of a year is always an opportunity for self-reflection. It's an opportunity to set up new goals for 2008. Jacob's talk with me really opened my heart and started me thinking. How nice have I been to some of the "mean people" in my life? Oh, not that they set out to be mean. Maybe, they are just cross, or grumpy, or distant, or don't call any more. Maybe they are too hurt to do any of those things so I need to swallow my pride and call them...again? Maybe their tanks aren't full or they need more love? Maybe, just maybe, I am on someone's "mean people" list??
I want to step out of my comfort zone, even with the folks who may not respond positively.
How I am, and how I want to be, has nothing to do with how they behave.
Jesus is my role model for that. He was nice and kind even when people were really mean.
So thanks, Jacob, for the Christmas gift...a perfect reminder. Am I on the nice list or naughty list?
It's up to me!
God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Linda
Friday, December 21, 2007
This past week has been full of arts and crafting, so much of my attention has been diverted from food! My goal is to keep losing a pound a week during the holiday season! I'm also eating lots of vegetables and drinking water.
Blessings, hugs and loves to all who read this! Love Linda
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I started drawing when I was quite young. I took a number of art classes in Seattle, but I am mostly self-taught! My favorite kind of art to engage in is water color pencil drawing, collage with fine transparent papers, and pen and ink drawing!
I made Memory Books for both Jessi and Amy..."Letters From Your Mom-What I Want You To Know When I Am Gone" and I included some of my art. I also have a tradition of drawing my own Christmas cards.
Someone recently asked me what that process was like. So here's a view inside this artist's head:
First, I search and search for an inspiration piece, something that jogs my ideas anf gets my creative juices flowing. One year I found my inspiration on a card, another year in a painting in a window in Levinworth Washington, on a piece of fabric, a cookie box, and this year in an art piece in a book.
Next, I get artist's paper and begin to sketch in pencil. This often takes several days to a week of work. Getting the size and dimensions to "fit" on a small piece of paper is often difficult. My biggest problem areas are eyes and smiles. Last year I must have re-done Santa's eyes ten times.
After sketching everything in pencil, and if you look closely at my letters and drawings you can still see some of the pencil marks, I set out with paint pens, watercolor pencils. white out for mistakes and take over our dining table as the process unfolds.
This year, as always, Bert was a part of the whole process. His encouragement and comments.. "Wow, that's coming right along!"... are so helpful. You should see our dining room...paper and pens, glitter and envelopes...EVERYWHERE! The painting process often takes several 6-8 hour days to complete.
I then take the painted original to Kinkos and they color copy the original. I usually make 40 cards. However, the process is far from over.
The next step is to personalize each card with gold paint (for Santa's buckle. sleigh rails, bells etc) and lots and lots of glitter! My grandaughter , Emma, is my inspiration for that! Like her Nana, she loves sparkles and glitter. Her card is always so glittered that you can hardly see the drawing:) ...Clear glitter for Santa's beard, gold glitter for the elves boots, Santa's buckle. green glitter...well the list goes on and on. Needless to say, our carpet sparkles.
I dry all the cards by our fireplace, punch holes in the card and attached letter, and tie each one with ribbon. I then write a short personalized note, decorate the envelope, and send the card on its way.
The whole process usually takes several weeks and often the ideas percolate for several months. I often take the saying for the card from old Christmas songs. Last year I had Santa checking his list and said, "He's making a list and checking it twice" and I had all the names of my grandchildren on the list! What a hoot!
I already have an idea for next year and wish there was time to get started right now!
These cards are a gift of love from me to my family, a Christmas tradition. Making the cards is is a gift to my soul.
Over the years, to see all the fine, detailed work, I have graduated to wearing glasses during the process...just like St. Nick. I'll unveil this card on my blog after I send it out to family and friends!
Tee Hee! What fun!
Love and Christmas kisses! God bless! Love, Linda
Friday, December 14, 2007
But this was different. As my Mom used to say, and I LOVE this phrase, I was " Lolly Gagging Along" and I got there at 7am. Who did I meet but my former student Theresa Waco. Theresa was my student 15 years ago at SCC, and she is currently a special-ed teacher at Hamblin Elementary School. She is a former nun, former teacher at Mt. St. Michael, and her life story could be a made-for-TV movie. She is one of the many "could never forget them" students that I have had over the years. I was invited to her last birthday party, had coffee with her after her mother died recently, and I bump into her at Fred Meyers and Safeway regularly. We light up when we see each other.
My conversations with Theresa are never surface level. We always get down to it , as if this was the last time we will ever see each other. She, like most dedicated teachers at this time of the year is exhausted. She was carrying an "energy drink" that promised 4 hours of energy. She needed much more and days of sleep. We talked about Christmas and her upcoming holiday. We talked about missing our Moms.
Theresa mentioned that one of her sisters was putting together a family calendar with pictures and "Mom Sayings" from each of the kids. A few of the questions to they were to answer that would go on the calendar?...what was one phrase that Mom always said to you? What was the happiest memory you had with Mom? What was your earliest memory with Mom? If you could talk to Mom today, what would you say to her?
There just are not words, not any words, that can possibly convey what it feels like in my heart and soul to have my Mom gone physically, to have her dead, to not be able to hear her voice or listen to her wisdom. I can't stop crying, even now years later, when I think about it. After Theresa and I talked and I got in the car...a deep, deep sob came from somewhere inside me.
Truth is...I miss my Mom terribly! I miss her every day, I miss her when I am sick, I miss her at the holidays and on her birthday and anniversary...I miss her all the time.
Now you might assume from all that missing that I had a perfect relationship with my Mom. I didn't. She wasn't perfect and neither was I. For the last several years of her life she was very ill, and I traveled to Seattle every other weekend to help with her care. I coordinated all of her health care and kept track of all her insurance. She was often furious at me that I refused to buy her cigaretes and unhappy when I gave her the nubulizer treatments that helped her to breathe. I remember, deep in my bone marrow, the sounds of the oxygen machine that kept her alive at night. I slept in the spare bedroom right next door to where she was and could hear every gasp of air that she took. My life was uprooted during that time...a life lived partially in Spokane and partially in Seattle. Yet I wouldn't trade a minute of that "give back time" that I had with her. Not one minute.
You see while my Mom and I were very different in many ways, she was a detail person whose home was always in perfect order and I was and am someone where time with people means more to me than a clean house, I really had a Mom who loved me every minute. I had a "go to the ends of the earth for you kind of mom" every minute that she was alive. I had a Mom who loved me with every cell of her body and that didn't change when I left home. I had a Mom that could irritate me like no one else, but at the same time could love me like no one else. I had a Mom. Had a Mom.
I am currently reading Mitch Albom's book "for one more day". Mitch is the author of "Tuesdays With Morrie", one of my all-time favorite reads. In his latest novel Albom explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? This book, which for me is a 5 kleenex book, explores several life lessons that hit me in the face right now.
When you look back, and it is all said and done, will you be overwhemed with regret that you held on to bitterness and didn't do forgiveness? What happens to our spirits and our hearts when we refuse to see the good in others who are right beside us, our mothers, our sisters, our fathers, our brothers, our children, our spouses, our co-workers? What happens to our souls when we make someone "wrong" and can't let go of decisions they needed to make for themselves? What happens to us when we are too angry, too proud, too self-righteous, or too hurt, to reach out to others and say "I am so, so sorry. I must have really hurt you!"
Someone once said to me, "Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart...because they probably do!" Wise words. When you get that lesson, and see others differently, perhaps we can live life with more compassion and more real love.
If I could have one more day with anyone, it would be my mom. I would tell her how much I miss her and what a WONDERFUL Mom and friend she was to me. I would tell her I am so, so sorry for any of the petty differences I let come between us. I would tell her I am so proud to be her daughter, her friend. I would tell her that I will never, ever forget all of the sacrifices she made so I could go to college, all of the times she drove me to school, all of the sleep overs she had at my house, all the lunches we had that I took for granted. Now, when I see other daughters my age having lunch with their elderly Moms...I want to go over and whisper in the daughter's ear..."Soak it up, appreciate it all...she may be gone tomorrow!" I would give anything, and change any busy schedule, to have lunch one more time with my Mom.
I would tell her that I haven't been a perfect Mom either, but I have tried, really tried with all of my heart, to have Jessi and Amy feel as loved by me as I felt loved by her. I would tell her that I could feel her presence at the Nutcracker Ballet and wished she was there. I would tell her what Jenna, and Jacob, and Emma are like...knowing how happy that would make her.
So the life lesson for me today is this. ..Don't take those you love for granted. You will discover, when they are gone, how many opportunities you missed...by being angry, or hurt, or distant...to tell them that you really love them.
Trust me, that when they are gone, you will regret every wasted moment...and you will miss them beyond what you could ever imagine.
God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this! Love Linda
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Not only did I grade final exams and notebooks, I did final grades! It's like running a marathon...you are exhausted and yet satisfied at the end. :) On top of all of that, our precious Grandma Elaine had another serious stroke and ended up in the ICU. And then there are Christmas preparations...which I love doing!
I always draw our Christmas card and doing that has been a sanity saver for me!
It was hard to keep any focus at all on Weight Watchers. Yet the habits I am getting in place are doing the job, stress or no stress.
I lost another pound for a total of 27 pounds!
My goal is 30 pounds by Christmas. I will be very happy, however, if I continue at the one pound loss per week during the Holidays!
This weekend (Saturday morning) Amy, Jenna and I are headed to see Grandma Elaine at the hospital! Jessi and Tim were just over there, and I am anxious to give some special loves to this dear lady!
May the true spirit of Christmas live in your heart! God Bless! Love and hugs to all who read this! Love Linda
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
I am SO proud of my students for the amazing, college level work they did. I have pushed them hard all quarter...let's turn up the dial and do more and do it better! I upped the expectations, and they came through!
It's excruciating to have them all leave at once, hear from each of them what they learned, and see the changes they have made in just twelve weeks. I cried while they talked, and I cried while I talked to them, saying goodbye. I copied off one of my favorite sayings for each of them and brought each one a flower.
There is still more grading to do and final grades to do, but this is just how yesterday went.
This is a job I have loved for forty years and I am so, so honored to be their teacher! They are SO courageous and such fine people. I still can't stop crying when I read their cards and notes!
After leaving my students, and THREE class potlucks in a row where I only had carrots and celery, I went directly to my Weight Watchers meeting and weigh in.
I lost 1.4 pounds for a total of 26 pounds! I am over the 25 pound mark. I went up, got a magnet, and have been letting that sink in ever since.
I have adored my life...every day, all the time. I have adored the ups and downs and the great learnings.
However, I have NOT adored being overweight the last few years. I have NOT adored the "lose 15 pounds, gain it back" cycle. I have NOT adored buying clothes of larger sizes. I have NOT adored looking in the mirror. I had quit weighing myself, I just didn't want to know. I had somehow resigned myself into thinking that this is how my life was going to be.
And then Amy invited and gently pushed for me to go to Weight Watchers and this journey began. Every day is hard work, not just in what I eat, but how I "use" food. Is food a comforter, a friend, an answer to hurt and stress? Or is food just food...fun, tasty, and what I need to eat when I am hungry.
The journey to heath and weight loss is a lifestyle change that is physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. I have always taken on tough goals and have often gone after them with great effort and stamina. Now I am doing that for my health!
I will lose 4 more pounds by Christmas. I will continue to make tough choices. I will NOT take the easy way out or make excuses! I will not lie to myself that things are OK with my weight when they are not. There will be weeks where I may gain weight or maintain my weight, but I will not let those weeks stop me from doing what I said I would do.
I will allow myself to be proud of me for the enormous effort I have put into this!
I know God loves me and His love and strength have held me up in this process. I know my husband loves and adores me. He is so proud of me and delighted as I get clothes of a smaller size or wear clothes I couldn't get into any more. I know my family and friends love me and stand beside me as I work to do this. I know they want me to stay on the planet and be healthy.
I know I love me and that I am worth doing this for!
So...yesterday was an emotional day, a very emotional day...it still reverberates through my soul! 92 goodbyes and goodbye to 1.4 more pounds!
Hugs and loves to all who read this! God Bless! Linda
Monday, December 03, 2007
One of my favorite Christmas one liners comes from the book and movie "The Christmas Carole" by Charles Dickens. This story, about Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchet, Tiny Tim and his family, tells a Christmas story, yet a story that rings true during the whole year.
Ebenezer is a "Bah Humbug" kind of skin flint who is self centered. His employee, Bob Cratchet, is as poor as a church mouse, works himself to death for his family, and yet is still kind and nice. Tiny Tim, who is crippled, is the "Spirit of Christmas". Tiny Tim has very little, yet he is grateful for it all.
It takes really looking back, and seeing the error of his ways, for Ebenezer to "get" what his horrible attitude and selfishness have done to others. The "ghosts" of Christmas past, present, and future give this grumpy old man, who only sees things from HIS point of view, an up close and personal vision of the heartache he has caused.
In true Christmas story fashion, thank heavens, Ebenezer opens his heart and makes profound changes in being generous...not just financially but in loving people just as they are and empathizing with them.
Why bring up this story? What do I have to learn from ALL the characters in the story Dickens crafted with such insight and wisdom? Why has this story endured over time?
I am ALL the characters in "The Christmas Carole". I am the person who doesn't get it, who only sees their side of things. I can find it difficult to "re-frame" what I see going on around me.
Instead of celebrating someone who presents healthy boundaries that work for them, I can take it personally and be mad that they didn't do what I wanted. Yet, if the tables are turned and I want to put out boundaries, I want them to respond with respect for my needs. Yikes, sometimes I have to give myself a stern talking to.
I can also be Bob Cratchet who loves and adores his family and works and works to help them.
I can lose the meaning of Christmas in trying to get it all done.
And I can be Tiny Tim who really gets how life should be lived!
Speaking of Tiny Tim, that one liner I mentioned earlier came from him. Tiny Tim says:
If you look
If you really look
You will find goodness
This Christmas season I am going to be more like Tiny Tim. I want to celebrate the goodness, set aside the differences, appreciate the best in those I love (afterall...what if they were gone tomorrow?), set aside petty complaints and let the true JOY of Christmas fill my heart!
I am getting ready to celebrate the birthday of Jesus...and He deserves an attitude of gratitude, comfort, and joy!
May you find the Tiny Tim in you this Christmas season!
God Bless! Love and hugs! Linda
"We are all just walking each other home." ...